By Voon Miaw Ping
KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 (Bernama) -- Kazakhstan is hoping that more tourists from Malaysia will visit the Central Asian Republic.
The Representative of Tourism and Foreign Affairs Department of Almaty city, Eshanova Akmaral, said the Republic aims to enhance people-to-people ties between both countries through tourism to enhance the strong bilateral relationships that Malaysia and Kazakhstan had built over the years.
“We see so much potential in our tourism sector for the Malaysians. Kazakhstan and Malaysia have a lot of similarities, including the fact that both countries are also multi-ethnic.
“So we are working on promoting Kazakhstan as a versatile tourism destination to the Malaysian tourists and this year, collaborating with our tourism authority, we are promoting Almaty,” she told Bernama International News Service at the Visit Almaty Conference 2019, here, Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Air Astana Regional General Manager for Southeast Asia, Australia & New Zealand Balachandran Chinna Swami said the national carrier is also working at increasing the flight connectivity between Kuala Lumpur and Almaty as part of the plans to increase tourist arrivals to Kazakhstan.
Air Astana, which commenced the Kuala Lumpur-Almaty direct flight in 2009, is currently flying three times a week between both cities.
Malaysian tourists currently do not need a visa to enter Kazakhstan for up to 30 days.
Akmaral said over 5,000 Malaysian tourists had visited Kazakhstan in 2018 while for the first four months of this year, more than 2,000 tourists from Malaysia have already been recorded.
Almaty, located at the foothills of the spectacular Trans-Ili Alatau mountains, is the largest city in Kazakhstan.
A vibrant city well known for its many parks, squares, historical monuments and lush greenery, Almaty is also the cultural and business hub of Kazakhstan.
Official statistics recorded the Malaysia-Kazakhstan bilateral trade in 2018 at US$478 million, where 73 per cent (US$351.7 million) comprise the export of Kazakhstani goods to Malaysia while 27 per cent (US$126.1 million) is made up of imports from Malaysia.
Kazakhstan's exports to Malaysia include crude oil, products from ferrous metals, geodetic and measuring instruments, tools, and pipe fittings.
Among Malaysia's main export to Kazakhstan are palm oil, lubricants, rubber products, clothing, furniture, electrical goods and electronics, appliances, and spare parts.